Dhaka-Delhi FS level talks

Resolve the Teesta issue immediately

Published : 25 Nov 2023 08:32 PM | Updated : 25 Nov 2023 08:32 PM

A meeting between Bangladesh Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen and his Indian Counterpart Vinay Kwatra was held at Hydrabad House in New Delhi on Friday. 

This was the second Foreign Office Consultations (FOC) between Bangladesh and India this year. The first one was held in February in Dhaka.

Bangladesh and India had discussed the Teesta issue at the highest political level on several occasions. And the foreign ministry always kept it on the discussion as top agenda.

Masud Bin Momen sought India’s cooperation for the early conclusion of the Teesta agreement and other water-sharing treaties of common rivers. Besides, both foreign secretaries discussed all the major issues of mutual interests to promote cooperation encompassing all sectors.

Bangladesh side also stressed on removing trade barriers from the country’s exportable goods and uninterrupted supply of essential commodities between the two countries. The meeting also discussed wide range of bilateral issues covering from border security to trade and commerce and water, power and energy cooperation. Earlier Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen held bilateral meetings with their respective Indiana counterparts. And they discussed all the major issues of mutual interests including the Teesta agreement and other water-sharing treaties of common rivers.

But many crucial issues especially the Teesta agreement and other water-sharing treaties of common rivers have not been resolved yet. So, this visit is expected to see a resolution to longstanding issues like Teesta water sharing, transit and trade deficit. Apart from Teesta, the Ganges water treaty issue which will expire soon, should be resolved immediately. The Bangladesh-India Ganges water-sharing deal was signed in 1996 after long negotiations. The 30-year deal will expire by 2026.

Dhaka still sees a ray 

of hope for resolving

 the long-standing 

Teesta water-sharing

 issue with Delhi

Bangladesh and India have 54 common rivers. Therefore, Masud Bin Momen’s this time visit is also expected to infuse fresh dynamism into the multi-faceted and multi-dimensional relationship between the two countries.

We still believe the water-sharing issues between the two countries would be resolved through discussions as the two countries are “mentally agreed” to work on the basis of mutual understanding.  So, Dhaka still sees a ray of hope for resolving the long-standing Teesta water-sharing issue with Delhi as an Indian parliamentary committee has recommended the government address the matter this year.

This is a significant development as MPs from all parties, including BJP, Congress and Trinamool Congress, are there in the committee. In 2011, Bangladesh and India failed to sign the Teesta water-sharing agreement due to West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s last-minute opposition during the then Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to Dhaka.

The issue remains unresolved, leaving farmers in Bangladesh’s northern region in trouble as irrigation has become difficult for them. Bilateral relations between two countries is a role model for neighbourhood diplomacy. We also expect our neighbour state would continue to walk step by step with our country to help it achieve the desired progress, stability and prosperity. Since Bangladesh’s Liberation War in 1971, the two countries shared history and culture, mutual trust and respect, longstanding friendship and continued cooperation.

So, both countries will have to make the two economies stronger by taking lessons from the Covid pandemic and recent global developments caused by Russian-Ukraine war.

We believe the relationship between the two nations is very fantastic and “written with blood” and it has reached a new height under the dynamic leadership of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s daughter Sheikh Hasina. This bonding of friendship and fraternity between Bangladesh and India will be further strengthened in the days to come.

We people of Bangladesh still believe India will resolve the long-standing Teesta water-sharing issue as early as possible. Besides, Bangladesh and India will also be stressing on deepening collaboration for greater prosperity of the people of the two friendly countries.

Apart from this, the two countries will have to do everything to bolster cooperation in important areas such as development, trade and commerce, regional connectivity, regional power grid connection, security and water related issues, consular and cultural issues.